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One Idea That Could Change Your Life (and How You Invest)

“Good morning, Sir,” I called out to a man walking just ahead of me during my morning walk yesterday. Like me, he was a regular at the walking track and we often crossed each other exchanging smiles and wishes. I had heard good things about him from others, and so I thought of engaging him in an interaction.

“How are you doing today?” I asked him.

“Great, as always!” he replied with a smile of a ten-year old. He, by the way, looked ninety years of age but healthy enough to be walking at quick pace.

“I have been observing you for the past many days,” I said, “And you always wear a nice smile on your face and look so healthy. It seems you are living a great life.”

“Yeah, it’s always been wonderful,” he replied, “No regrets at all.”

“That’s wonderful!” I said, “But you’ve been lucky,” I murmured, which he could hear, “Else life is so full of adversities and regrets.”

“Yeah, that’s true,” he replied. “It’s adversity all the way, but that’s what life is supposed to be, isn’t it?”

“Maybe, but then that’s not a life you seem to have lived, right?” I asked. “I can see that you are happy and healthy at ninety years of age, and I know that you are financially free. In other words, you seem to have everything that is missing for most of us going through mid-life.”

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One Big Lesson I Learned Late in My Investing Life

One of the most profound thoughts I’ve ever read on the child-parent relationship comes from the noted Lebanese-American artist and poet Kahlil Gibran, who wrote the following under the title “On Children” –

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

The first time I read these thoughts, my first reaction was – “If my children are not my children, then whose are they? And what do you mean they are not mine?”

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The 38th Lesson

On a warm Sunday morning in early-April this year, I got up with some pain in the little finger of my left hand. It was a small bump. It wasn’t there when I slept the previous night, so it seemed to have appeared out of nowhere.

“You may have hurt your finger while sleeping,” said my wife.

“But there’s no sign of a cut or bleeding!” I told her. “What could be this?”

“It happens sometimes,” she tried to soothe my nerves.

Anyways, a week passed, and then two, and that bump got slightly bigger. It was a bit painful earlier, then more, and then the pain gradually reduced. But the redness and the bump remained.

Over the next two months, I saw around five different doctors, and all asked me to wait and watch and do nothing. I thought none of these doctors knew anything about this bump because each one had named it differently. And that is when I did something I now realize was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in my life.

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5 Ways to Create Luck in Investing and Life

A wise man once said, “I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, luckier I get.”

Believers in this saying usually belong to the meritocratic school of thought. They claim, “If you’re good, you don’t need luck.”

If you’re successful it’s a natural human tendency to assume the credit for your success. After all, you must have worked hard for it and you surely deserve it. But when I think of my life, I have seen and met many individuals for whom, in spite of working extremely hard, success remained elusive.

Goes with saying that I have also met those who achieved great heights with relatively much lesser effort. These are the people who manage to attract much more than their fair share of luck. Usually, we look down on such people with some envy and disdain. It’s assumed that any success founded on an element of luck is inherently undeserving.

Do you know someone who always manages to find himself in the right place at the right time? Before you label him as lucky, ask yourself – do you think his luck is out of pure randomness? Perhaps he has a knack for arriving at the right place and at the right time.

Common sense tells us that luck can’t be controlled and it’s all about chance and probability. But what if someone told you that there was a way to control luck? Not in an esoteric way but in a rational way? If you feel like scoffing at such an idea, I would urge you to have an open mind. Just for the sake of curiosity.

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100 Ideas on Living with Courage, Wisdom, and Peace (Special E-Book)

Notes to Inspire: 100 Ideas on Living with Courage, Wisdom, and PeaceBeing human means you’re going to experience a range of emotions throughout your life. They could be positive emotions like love, kindness, compassion or they could be negative ones like fear, frustration, and envy.

To get the maximum out of our short lives, we need to ensure that our days are filled with more positive feelings than the negative ones.

No matter how rich, healthy and happy you are, the pangs of depression or feeling low will hit you sometime. That’s when you may need some doses of inspiration to lift your spirit and take you out from the dump.

Now, what’s an inspiration?

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3 Iron Rules of Life and Investing

You seem to be stressed out today?” asked my Yoga teacher, an elderly gentleman in his seventies.

“Oh, not really!” I said.

“No, you look a bit stressed. Are you unwell?”

“Not at all. Just feeling a bit confused.”

“May I help?”

“Knowing you, I think you can.”

“Shoot!”

“You see, I have been a stock market investor for many years now, and now also don the role of a teacher trying to help people make saner and better investment decisions. But I am often faced with a dissonance.”

“And what’s that?”

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When Long-Term Thinking is a Terrible Idea

During my evening walk yesterday, I was with a 75-year old gentleman who seemed fitter than I am, walked faster than me, had a wider smile than I can ever manage, and talked much more than I do in a few days.

During the ninety minutes we walked together, we talked about our lives, careers, and investing.

“What do you do for a living, young man?” he asked me.

“I am a blogger and an investor,” I replied.

“What kind of an investor are you?” he asked back.

“Well, a long term investor in the stock market,” I said.

“Long term? Great! Even I have been a long term investor all my life,” he told me. “Long term investing makes a lot of sense.”

“Yeah it does,” I said. “Having a long-term thinking is always good.”

“Well, not always, son!” he replied.

“Why do you say so?” I asked.

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The Dangers of Persistence

A few months back, during my lecture to a class of MBA students, I asked them to finish a sentence. The sentence was – “If you play a slot machine in a casino long enough, eventually you will ………” *

The class yelled out in unison “WIN!”

As most people reading this know, that is exactly the wrong answer. Slot machines are engineered to make everyone but the casino a loser in the long run. But MBA kids don’t know that, and they are never taught that. I assumed they confused the benefits of persistence with the actual odds of succeeding.

Anyways, I met a couple of my neighbours in the gym today, who smiled – as if mocking me – when I told them about my work that is to teach people to make lesser mistakes with their money and also learn to make sensible investment decisions for the long term.

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